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Linda Harris, 14
Ashland City, Tennessee
September 14, 2005

Agencies: Department of Human Services Nashville Tennessee | Oak Plains Academy Tennessee

Last updated: 8 months ago

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The city was told that a 14-year-old girl from Long Island, N.Y., had dropped dead of a heart attack after a confrontation with staff. March 2005, a man called the Philadelphia child-abuse hotline with a warning: His coworkers were using “improper and illegal” force against city youngsters sent to the Chad Youth Enhancement Center. Unknown Male teen June 2005 Chad Youth Enhancement a Philadelphia child-care investigator learned that a staffer at the Tennessee center had been fired after he allegedly slammed a boy to the floor so hard the child fouled himself. In 2005, when Tennessee staged a surprise inspection of Chad, a girl told the inspectors that a Chad supervisor “will try to hurt students during restraints and ‘wants us to scream.’ ” Another youngster said she had seen “Big Mike slam kids down real hard on the floor. I don’t want that happening to me, so I try hard to do everything they ask me to do. Murdered by Chad Youth Enhancement Counselor

Among the allegations listed in Power to the People’s complaint against the Chad Youth Enhancement Center are:

  • Excessive use of force by staff constituting “cruel and unusual punishment.”
  • Cover-up or refusal by state officials to take the necessary action against Chad officials.
  • Forced drugging and behavior modification of children by counselors.
  • Excessive use of force with the controversial “Handle With Care” choke-hold restraint method, which has caused other deaths in addition to the ones cited in the complaint.
  • Creating a climate of fear and intimidation to rule over the youth.
  • Unlawful use of choking and other violence as a punitive device.

Power to the People has asked the Justice Department to:

  1. suspend or end all federal funding to the Tennessee Departments of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and Children’s Services, which license Chad and Hermitage Hall;
  2. sue Universal Health Care for “operating unsafe, abusive and criminal operations” at both facilities in violation of the U.S. Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and
  3. initiate criminal prosecutions for the deaths of the two children.

These complaints against mistreatment of juveniles at detention facilities were discussed at a community forum on the mass criminalization of black youth sponsored by Power to the People on Jan. 19 in Nashville.

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